We are studying the book of Jonah for lent at Cornerstone. For the first sermon in the series our pastor, Nate Shurden, focused on the futility of fleeing God. This was just what I needed to hear.
Lent is never a season I look forward to. By this time of year, I am often emotionally and physically drained. Add on some form of Lenten abstinence and out come the mood swings. When the usual hiding places are gone, the broken places and sin come to light. Suddenly the kids can’t do anything right, everyone’s an idiot, and my prayer hit the brass sky. Did I mention, I hate Lent.
As Nate said today, when you play hide and seek with God, God always wins. He meant this not as a threat, but as one of God’s “severe mercies.” I originally intended to write a post on typology and Jonah, but as wondrous as the imagery of is in the book, what struck me most of all today was the idea of God’s faithfulness: His faithfulness to see me through my low points, my high points, and each step of the journey. I am reminded of His faithfulness to all of us.
The sign of Jonah, that of going down into the depths of a Leviathan and emerging after three days, is a figure of the depths God goes in pursuing and rescuing us. Neither Jonah nor myself, nor anyone else can escape God’s sovereign designs. The sign of Jonah is the only sign God will give to our wicked and adulterous generation. For it is a sign by which we come to know the character of God, a God so different from us, who yet insists on forging this most terrible mortal unity with us. It is by this sign and the power of his Spirit that His power breaks forth into the hearts of the wicked and adulterous.
The sign of Jonah is a sign of contradiction because:
- It contradicts our expectations of holiness: God expresses unity with us by entering into our deepest and most final hiding place, the domain of death.
- It contradicts the ordinary course of things: After three days, Jesus emerges from the very belly of darkness and loss from whence no other has yet returned.
- Finally, it contradicts our expectations power: God uses the very forces which work against Him, forces we may even use to protect ourselves from God, to institute and further His salvific ends.